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Where Talk of Eminem Was Life of the Parties


At the Grammy parties, which lasted into the wee hours Thursday, Eminem played the part that a skimpy Versace dress did last year: He was on everyone's lips. From the EMI party at the Hotel Figueroa across from Staples Center to the BMG bash next to the Conga Room on Wilshire Boulevard--and everywhere in between--the topic of conversation at the rock 'n' roll water cooler (the bar) was the controversial rapper. Nominations, awards and the much-hyped Eminem-Elton John duet were dissected as champagne was poured and canapes devoured.

Radiohead's Ed O'Brien and Nigel Godrich were among the first guests at the Hotel Figueroa. The two noshed on black beans as they pondered the evening. Godrich offered his take: "It was weird, an anticlimax. It was such a huge buildup."

The Beastie Boys' Mike D was less surprised. "It was bound to be an anticlimax," he said. But, he added, "I think it was a healthy dialogue." Controversy notwithstanding, the hip-hop artist said he came to party. "Having fun would be good," he said, holding hands with his wife, Tamra Davis.

For the EMI party, the hotel was transformed into a Moroccan Club Fez. Record executives, artists and other guests lounged on oversized pillows or milled around the Arabian nights fantasy.

Dandy Warhols lead singer and guitarist Courtney Taylor compared this year's three-Grammy haul by Steely Dan with Santana's big win last year. Grammy voters are older, said the lanky 30-something singer, and "Steely Dan is their generation. It's a sign of the times [and] these are weird times."

"Weird" could have been the theme at the Warner Music Group's bash under a giant tent behind the Los Angeles Center Studios, a sound stage complex in downtown L.A. The tunnel-shaped tent, spouting fake flames, was divided into "mood rooms," including a central blue-lit room with a centerpiece of pillar-shaped fish tanks and a bar. The celebration brought out best female country vocal winner Faith Hill and her husband Tim McGraw. Joni Mitchell arrived even before the Grammy ceremony was over, cutting out after presenting U2 with the Record of the Year award.

Steely Dan's Walter Becker and Donald Fagan were there, as were Paul Simon, Bette Midler, B.B. King, the Deftones, Rickie Lee Jones and Gwen Stefani. Emmylou Harris made a brief appearance and left with a smile on her face. Harris, like most big names, cleared out before 11 p.m.

Outside the tent, Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty hung out by the heat lamps, while MTV veejay Carson Daly and "American Pie" actress Tara Reid chatted it up with Kid Rock and his entourage.

Inside, one dimly lit room with couches provided a hideaway for those who wanted it.

Not Hef.

With seven girlfriends in tow, Hugh Hefner made the usual eye-popping appearance, joining Time Warner Chief Executive Gerald Levin and Time Warner President Dick Parsons at the lavish event. At its peak, a crowd of about 2,000 people packed the party.

The BMG party in a restaurant space next to the Conga Room was slightly more intimate. Courtney Love stopped by to unload a barrage of profanities about the Grammy awards. "It's the most retarded thing," she said. "I've been nominated eight times, but I won't go. The Grammys are good for TV ratings and dresses."

"Enough said," she barked before storming off into the night.


Times staff writers Gina Piccalo and Rachel Uslan contributed to this story.

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